What’s Left, Being Right: Foreign Policy in the Middle East

What’s Left

Hawks In Congress

Nuclear talks with Iran, and the numerous surrounding controversies, are part of a hotly contested debate in American politics right now. The lethal nature and possible catastrophic real world outcomes that could stem from these negotiations only further heighten the tensions. The gist of these talks is to hopefully come to the answer of the many questions regarding a nuclear Iran. Key questions include: should Iran be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon? To what extent will the U.S. and other world powers go to block nuclear development? Will the sanctions already in place be raised or lowered? 

For the first time in many years, serious headway has been made in recent talks, and a consensual agreement seems feasible. Unfortunately, as is often the case, Republicans are using the current issue to increase partisanship, undermine the Obama administration and act as the hawks they always do (hawks is a phrase to designate members of the American government who support an

interventionist and typically military role in foreign policy). 

Interested in dragging this country into another quagmire war in the Middle East, flexing America’s always important military ego and further increasing wealth and power of the military-industry complex, Republicans and a few right-leaning Democrats have shown where their agenda lies. The keystone of the Republican objective is to pass one of two bills currently in Congress that would force President Obama to submit any nuclear agreement with Iran for Congress’ approval. Not only does this create unneeded domestic political pressures on foreign policy, but it could also have a “profoundly negative impact,” as the Obama administration states, on the nuclear talks with Iran at such a rare and tenuous time.

Obama has obviously threatened to veto both of the bills. Furthermore, the White House said the bills would impede on the President’s authority by requiring him to receive congressional approval for any new nuclear agreement. This could easily prevent a deal from succeeding by removing  Obama’s ability to temporarily waive the strict and heavy sanctions against the Iranian economy. The sanctions are the main reason for Iran’s cooperation in the talks, and any infringement of Obama’s power to control said sanctions is a serious blow to the negotiation power of the White House.

Hopefully the more rational members of Congress realize that the present talks with Iran are a very delicate issue and should be treated as such. They shouldn’t be used for some cheap partisan and divisive political activity, and cooler heads will realize the necessity of careful deliberation, discussion and negotiation with Tehran. The current bills and Republican agenda threaten to undermine the dealings, which could have momentous consequences in the future. The hawkish nature of some members of Congress right now, in regards to the current dealings, are childish, unnecessary and frankly embarrassing. Using the regional stability of millions of people, the possibility of nuclear proliferation and nuclear weapon usage for political gain and venture is simply sad but unsurprising to see. 

Being Right

Playing Bad Politics

United States relations with Israel are on thin ice after President Obama opened discussions with Iran regarding their nuclear program. This new policy of open discussion has harmed relations between the United States and Israel, as Iran is one of Israel’s largest threats to national security. Because of this, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has openly stated that he will not support a two-state compromise to problems in the Middle East, one in which both Palestine and Israel are both states identified on the map. Netanyahu has since recanted his statement after being re-elected last week.

In the past, the United States has repeatedly rejected United Nations (UN) proposals that would establish a united Palestinian state in attempts to support Israel. The Obama administration is rethinking the previous course of action and is gearing up to support a two-state proposal in the future. The President plans to establish even further dialogues about possibly curbing the Iranian nuclear program.

President Obama has openly condemned the Israeli Prime Minister’s opinion regarding his stance on Arab-Israeli voting rights in a united Palestinian state. Obama believes that the only way to ensure the safety of Israel is to open discussion and create a two-state solution in Palestine. Obama is quoted as saying, “…we just can’t in perpetuity maintain the status quo…That’s not a recipe for stability in the region.” Despite major controversy, many Democrats have stood behind Obama and his stance regarding the Middle East, citing the fact that Netanyahu is not firm in his stance regarding the two-state proposal after he retracted his statement. 

On the other hand, Republicans are rightly taking advantage of the situation to question the actions of the President. Most outspoken regarding Obama’s actions is Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain. He is quoted as saying, “The President has his priorities so screwed up that it’s unbelievable.” With elections rapidly approaching, Republicans are using the opportunity to halt President Obama’s sketchy legislative agenda by threatening to withhold United States funds to the UN. The Republican controlled congress is also threatening to stop aid to Palestine. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, is planning to visit Israel sometime later this month. Currently, the United States provides three billion dollars in military aid annually to Israel. After careful evaluation, it is clear that this is a step backward for the United States. Obama is making a huge mistake by turning his back on this nation’s only ally in the Middle East. A united Palestinian state will prove to be a major threat to the future safety of the United States. These countries are the homeland of openly anti-American terrorists groups such as ISIS and Hamas. A united Palestinian state recognized by the United Nations could lead to unrest and prove to be a detriment to the United States. 

 It appears that Obama is just playing politics, with his attempt to have a working relationship with both entities. Yet, it will be nearly impossible to foster a positive relationship with both Israel and a united Palestinian state since relations between the two are in such disarray. Unfortunately, this is bad politics; while Obama may have had good intentions, the outcome will be far from positive. It is apparent that Obama is continuing the precedent of bad foreign relations established by his administration until the end of his term.